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Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business Hardcover – June 11, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Obst’s Hello, He Lied (1996) was both a survivor’s guide to Hollywood and a memoir; her latest outing mixes her firsthand account of navigating the changing movie- and television-making business with the perspectives of other industry bigwigs. The producer of hit movies such as Sleepless in Seattle and Contact, Obst left a deal at Fox to work at Paramount in the late 1990s, just before a decade of upheaval hit the studio. As DVD revenues began to disappear, thanks to the rise of digital streaming and piracy, the studios saw their profit margins cut drastically and looked to other forms of revenue, such as international box-office numbers. Obst weathered the storm at Paramount for a decade, making the hit How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, before losing her deal and moving over to Sony, where she ventured into television, which she found to be overtaking features in terms of quality and star power. Written in warm, conversational prose, Obst’s tales from the movie front together offer an engrossing look at the state of the entertainment industry today. --Kristine Huntley

Review

"[A] fascinating memoir-primer on the movie industry….A great read that illuminates what is really shaping today's movie business.” (The Wall Street Journal)

"[A] witty and wise new primer" (The Washington Post)

“[A] must-read on the ever-evolving movie industry…accessible and entertaining…Obst pulls back the curtain on an industry built on lies and illusion, allowing readers to get in on the ongoing joke.” (Publishers Weekly)

“From her unique perch as a maker of real movies—not sequels, prequels, or reboots—Lynda Obst explains why the movies we all loved growing up don't get made anymore. With her sharp wit, she gives an inside account of how the industry has changed but also offers hope that Hollywood will meet the challenges of the digital age and the global marketplace. If you love movies, this is a must read.” (Arianna Huffington)

"A useful primer if you haven't quite figured out why so many blockbusters take place in China these days.” (Forbes)

"A real pro—Lynda Obst—has written a realistic book about making film into reality in these days of extremes....She describes what might, may, will happen...A wonderful text book full of mysteries, loss and longing. I just couldn't stop reading it, even though I have never had movie-making impulses." (Liz Smith, Huffington Post)

“If you find yourself reaching for any excuse not to walk into a movie theater these days, here's producer Lynda Obst to explain why in her wildly readable X-ray of contemporary Hollywood. A must read for anyone wondering what happened to the movies we used to love.” (Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls)

“Written in warm, conversational prose, Obst’s tales from the movie front together offer an engrossing look at the state of the entertainment industry today.” (Booklist)

“Obst...casts a sharp eye over recent developments in Tinseltown. Depth of detail and shrewd illustrative examples make this a must-read for anyone interested in the movie business.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (January 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476727740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476727745
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #529,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The first third or so of the book is pretty much a nice explanation of the new international economics of big budget movie making. The rest for the most part is a personal narrative, with, as other reviewers have noted, way too much name dropping and gushing endorsements of her allies to keep track of. A more accurate title might be: The crony capitalism of the old Hollywood versus the data driven marketing machine of the new Hollywood. The book is done in a somewhat gossipy fashion, with name dropping and mentions of lunches and meetings at trendy LA spots. Probably more entertaining if you are truly fascinated by the egos and politics that run, or at least used to run Hollywood. In the end the author comes to the proper conclusion that change is inevitable, but throughout the book, I wasn't so sure she would realize that. Her warm reminiscence of the good ol' days, (the 80s and 90s, when insiders like herself got together and pitched movies to their allies among catered lunches and upscale hotels) comes off as disconnected... The studio system has never been good at churning out "good" movies, it's just that now rather than throwing a lot of darts at the board and hoping for a bullseye, they spend a lot of money ensuring the few darts they throw hit the bullseye... In the end, the studio system, the agents, all the other over-paid middle men of dubious value will likely be filtered out in the new economics of filmmaking, which is why "Hollywood" only really makes giant blockbusters now, because the scale of such movies is the only mechanism that really finds all these players relevant anymore.
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent writer, out of the New York Times. Media-speak in L A is hard to escape (example: some reviews have that tone of advertising). Refreshingly, mercifully, Obst writes in creative-speak. There's an entertaining scholarship in her writing that goes beyond the subject. This book's about business and art and society and culture and relationships, all humorously, elegantly, eloquently observed. I had a list of fun parts but it's too long. The very wording is a charm. The story about Titanic's opening in Russia is a lesson in the American character. Thanks, Ms. Obst.
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Format: Hardcover
Lynda Obst has pretty impressive credentials, from starting out a in development with Geffen going on to produce some very notable films from the 1980s up to fairly recently. She now serves as the Executive Producer on "Hot in Cleveland" and that show's sensibilities about Hollywood give some knowing nods as to how Obst feels about the entertainment industry. With "Sleepless in Hollywood" she provides a concise synopsis of what's going wrong in Hollywood, a change she saw unfolding over the past decade, and how those changes are fundamentally altering the entertainment business. As online and streaming video have gained a greater share of the market, along with piracy and file sharing, the DVD market has collapsed just as it did with CDs for the music industry. As the studios lost this stable and predictable revenue stream it created huge problems for them. As a result studios opted to be more cautious, skewing towards known quantities: remakes, sequels, prequels, rehashing television shows as movies, reboots, origin stories, and the like. And since a significant portion of revenue now comes from overseas ticket sales films had to be dumbed down and the humor made more broad so as to appeal to a broader swath of viewers in different societies. Smart, witty, urbane comedies are out, relegated to the realm of independent outlets, the big studios started making fewer films, and the pressure was on to make sure every film was a hit through relentless marketing, tie-ins, and product placement. The result is we don't get great original movies like we used to years ago and the industry is starting to slowly commit suicide on an endless repetitive cycle or rehashing old ideas.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
it's really frustrating as a movie lover to have so many weekends with nothing for me to see. This happens to many as they age and don't care for the youthful, tent pole, special effects movies that are now offered. The movies that are created to spin off sequels. THIS BOOK EXPLAINS THIS TREND! And it does it from the point of view of a very bright successful producer, Linda Obst who previously wrote another fascinating book, "Hello, He Lied" which I strongly recommend.

In this book she examines the trends that are changing Hollywood and not to the better for people like me. Maybe the most salient fact is the percentage of foreign viewership going from 20% to over 50% so character stories where the dialog doesn't translate well are very difficult to get made in this environment given the high cost to produce movies. Another subject touched briefly but well is the trends in financing movies and the micro movie trend.

Also interesting is her move to television producing as she sees her movie job disappear. This is followed by great dialog about her relationships as an on site producer at different studios. Just look at the great and popular series being done on TV like "Breaking Bad" to see where some talent is now being directed.

Overall, this is the ultimate current book about the movie business, the good and the bad. I couldn't recommend this book higher.
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